With last season's starting safeties, Bernard Pollard and Eugene Wilson on the outs in Houston, the Texans obviously have a couple of openings at the back end of the secondary. It was long rumored, and now all but confirmed that Glover Quin is going to be the new free safety. That leaves a starting hole at strong safety that a lot of us assume is going to be filled by Troy Nolan, who showed a nose for the ball in 2010 (but not much else).
The Texans drafted Idaho product, safety Shiloh Keo in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. He seems a great candidate to be a special teams demon and hopefully solid depth in the future at the safety position, but speculation is that he will at least have a chance to compete for a starting job. But in a year where the Texans are supposed to be making a quick-turnaround on defense, do they really want to go with yet another rookie, or barely-past rookie in Nolan at the back end of the secondary?
This is where Cowboys strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh logically enters the picture. This sort of thing happens all the time when a team hires a new coach or coordinator. They want to bring guys in that they're familiar with, and can help ease the transition to new systems.
Sensabaugh isn't going to get anyone excited. His ceiling tops out around "solid". He isn't the run-stopper you'd like to see in your strong safety, and while he's not a coverage specialist - he would be better in that role than Nolan, or sadly - anyone else who has played the strong safety position in the history of the Houston Texans. He'll be 28 years old in June, so he's by no means over the hill. On a great defense, Sensabaugh would make a very solid backup and spot-starter. For Houston, well... I think you get it.
This isn't meant to be an endorsement of Sensabaugh-to-Houston. It's just something I see as a likely direction the team will head. Presently, the options at strong safety are Nolan, who only looks like a decent option because of how awful the position was last year. Keo, who the coaches are absolutely in love with, but let's not get crazy here - he's a rookie, and his leadership/mettle/tenacity will only take him so far at the next level. (Especially, again, as a rookie.)
While going forward with only Troy Nolan or Shiloh Keo as their main options to start at strong safety would certainly fit the way the Texans typically do business, the hope is that the addition of Wade Phillips to the staff will change some of their set ways. The Texans are big fans of using the previous season's "flashes" of young players as a reason to assume they are going to take the next step in their careers. It doesn't always work out that way.
Sensabaugh would be a fairly cheap addition that could give the Texans some flexibility at the safety position if Nolan and/or Keo aren't ready to be starters (and really, I don't think they are).
Of course, I'd love to see the Texans pursue Dawan Landry if the CBA shakes out in such a way that it's a possibility. However the Texans are all but a lock to spend their big free agent dollars on a cornerback. They'll make the proverbial "competitive offer" to Nnamdi Asomugha, and he will laugh uncontrollably. They'll pursue Ike Taylor, and hopefully fail, because Taylor has free agent bust written ALL OVER him. Perhaps Carlos Rogers or Johnathan Joseph will be the guy. The point is, there isn't going to be enough free agent money to get a top-tier caliber safety and a cornerback good enough to give this secondary some real improvement.
Rotoworld "reports" (more like suggests) that Sensabaugh is likely to test the free agent waters once he's able. Sensabaugh could be a sensible (heh) addition to the Texans, provided the team also gives Nolan and Keo a real shot to compete for a starting job. I'm just very skeptical that either of those guys are ready to be starters - even in a secondary as awful as Houston's.